In Germany they first came for the Communists,
and I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a Communist.
Then they came for the Jews,
and I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a Jew.
Then they came for the trade unionists,
and I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a trade unionist.
Then they came for the Catholics,
and I didn’t speak up because I was a Protestant.
Then they came for me —
and by that time no one was left to speak up.
Like an unreal scene from a science fiction movie, agents from the Detroit Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) office, driving six large tinted-glass SUVs, surrounded the Hope of Detroit Academy elementary school and playground on March 31, according to the People’s World 9http://www.peoplesworld.org/community-protests-immigration-raid-on-elementary-school/). Of course you probably did not hear anything in the corporate media about this.
Parents dropping their children off at school became the targets of the federal immigration agents.
As the school was encircled, two families took refuge inside. Two additional families were followed and detained after dropping off children, according to reporters.
At an April 6 press conference to protest the action, Hope principal Ali Abdel said he was outraged by the action. The parents, he said, “are hardworking people, not criminals.”
The school became a frightened “ghost town” because of the raid, the principal said. After the afternoon bell, some parents were afraid to pick up their children, he said.
Abdel said the raid has had lasting effects, with some students no longer coming to school, others asking what is going to happen to them and many having trouble focusing on their studies.
“We want this to stop,” he declared.
The press conference was held outside the school despite cold rain. Hope of Detroit Academy is located in the largely Latino community of Southwest Detroit.
Speakers laid the blame for the outrageous actions at the feet of the Detroit ICE director, Rebecca Adducci.
Democratic State Rep. Rashida Tlaib, who represents the area, said such actions are becoming a pattern under Adducci, with reports of agents setting up checkpoints and watching schools, churches and supermarkets.
Many speakers pointed out that this is out of compliance with ICE’s own internal policies, which say agents should refrain from actions near schools, churches and other sensitive areas. The school adjoins St. Francis D’Assisi Church.
Ryan Bates, director of the Alliance for Immigrant Rights and Reform in Michigan, said that when he got a call about the incident his reaction was, “I didn’t believe it. It was so outrageous, so foolish, so cruel.”
He said he went straight to the scene and asked ICE agents if they had warrants. Their answer, he said, was, “We don’t need a warrant to be on a public street in front of a school.”
According to the People’s World, told they had terrified students and adults, the agents finally departed. But, principal Abdel reported, “they returned later that day in time for the closing bell.”
Two weeks before the surrounding of the school, another horrible incident occurred.
Parent Rogelio Perez told the crowd, “I have three beautiful children, 9, 5 and 3. I was living the American dream. I was working and my children were going to the school.”
However everything changed the morning of March 23 after he dropped his kids off at school.
As he pulled up to his home, he saw lights flash. “It was ICE,” he said. Although he had done nothing wrong and they had no warrant, they illegally forced their way into his home. The search resulted in the detention of his wife who is six months pregnant. She was imprisoned and denied access to her medication and medical care. She has since been deported to Mexico with her three U.S. citizen children.
Residents here ask: Will the “unthinkable” continue to happen?
Lawrence Garcia, president of the Hispanic Bar Association of Michigan, said the community is demanding a full investigation to determine the persons responsible for authorizing these “out-of-control” actions, censure and some form of punishment for the wrongdoers, and finally reassurance that ICE will stand by internal policies and respect laws like the Fourth Amendment that prohibit warrantless searches and improper targeting of people.
There have been similar raids in Atlanta schools.
We do not know from news reports if the Justice Department has gotten involved with this particular raid at Hope Academy Detroit, but sopkespeople at the time stated that if the raid at Hope Academy was not addressed within seven days a complaint would be filed with the U.S. Department of Justice.
In other Detroit news:
Less than 12 hours after angry parents, students, teachers, and BAMN civil rights activists left Robert Bobb stammering, shaking, and fleeing his “town hall” meeting held to purportedly get “community input” into Bobb’s plan to close down or charterize over 50 Detroit public schools in June, Robert Bobb has cancelled the second Town Hall Meeting scheduled for 6pm last night, Tuesday the 12th of April at Cody High School.
At last night’s meeting, the crowd of 300 repeatedly interrupted Bobb with boos and chants. Finally, only 55 minutes into the meeting, Bobb quit and walked out. The crowd roared.
“Bobb and School Board President Anthony Adams cannot tolerate public meetings where the truth about the planned, systematic dismemberment of Detroit’s public schools is brought to light. Once the truth is revealed, Detroiters’ just anger toward the architects of the destruction of public education in Detroit cannot and will not be contained,” said Steve Conn, Cass Tech teacher, longtime BAMN supporter, and leader of Defend Public Education/Save Our Students. Conn is contesting the union election in which the incumbent claimed victory against him with a 40-vote margin, while hundreds of ballots remained unopened.
“Bobb knows he is closing schools that are academically successful. He knows there is no room in the so-called “receiving schools.” He knows he is destroying any possibility of developing the full potential of special education students by mainstreaming them without appropriate support. There is no room for “dialogue” when someone is trying to obliterate your neighborhood, your schools and your children’s opportunity for an education,” said Shanta Driver, BAMN National Chair.
“We plan to organize mass direct action to save our schools. Our schools belong to the parents, students and teachers, not to Bobb, Bing, Snyder or Arne Duncan. We will not sit back and watch Detroit students’ futures be destroyed,” said Monica Smith, BAMN Organizer.
So while ICE raids schools and terrorizes undocumented workers and their families, Robert Bobb flees from parents and democracy in his attempt to eviscerate public schools.
For more information, call Monica Smith at 313-585-3637